Wednesday, June 05, 2013
The Chicago Tribune Comic Book: Hy Score
Hy Score was one of the new features introduced in the Chicago Tribune Comic Book. I guess the comic book was somewhat of a success because it remained a part of the Tribune for three years. The gimmick had to be what kept it alive, because the contents tended to be less than inspired. Case in point is Hy Score, which was added to the comic book on June 30 1940. At first this feature was truly awful, with ridiculously text-heavy narratives and exposition laden plots.
The strip was also at times titled Secret Agent Hy Score, Adventures of Hy Score and Hy Score in Arabia. An unmemorable one-panel 'topper' called Hy Score Comic Book Quiz was added in October 1942.
Mr. Score was an FBI agent who got into all the familiar scrapes of the genre. He solved murder mysteries, foiled espionage, and generally brought all sorts of miscreants to justice. The strip was penned by someone signing themselves as George Merkle, of whom I know nothing. Merkle's stories improved over the life of the strip, as he slowly but surely pared away at the paragraphs long captions. His art was alright, except that he had a real blind spot (heh) about drawing eyes. Most of his characters run around with eyes firmly shut, and when he did attempt to draw them open you can understand why. The strip looked best when the cartoonist was swiping from Alex Raymond, which he did often. According to Jerry Bails, there never really was a George Merkle -- he says that this is a pseudonym of George Marko, a fellow who worked in comic books.
Hy Score managed to outlast the Tribune comic book, albeit for just half a year. The strip was put to bed on 10/31/43.